£100,000 raised for cancer research by Wiltshire team taking on epic challenges

FUNDRAISER Diana Montgomery helped raise nearly £100,000 for cancer research in just five months.

First she rowed 54 miles from Oxford to Henley, travelling with a group of 13 other women affected by cancer.

Then she took on a second challenge – a bike ride from Vienne in the south of France to Montpellier, cycling with a team of 25 women of all ages. They rode around 300km over 10 hours a day in October.

The 57-year-old said: “One of my close friends was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

“My friend Caroline and I got together after a long time and she said she wanted to do something to help and give something back, so it was her idea for the row. I said I would love to do it.

“We got people together and put emails out so there was quite a lot of us wanting to do it.

“We had training every Friday at Henley Rowing Club with our coach Jeff Elison. He put up with 13 girls non-stop chatting over three days so we would like to thank him for his training.

“While we were rowing the team were all in pink hats so it looked really good. I was brought up in Henley, which is why we chose to row there.

Henley Rowing Club lent the group the boats and equipment.

“We called ourselves Team Row Deers as that is what we are, a bunch of old dears. We sent letters out and held dinner parties to fundraise so people were really generous.

“Most of us were over 50 so we’re in our third trimester of life – we are hardly spring chickens.

“There were 16 locks over three days on the row so it wasn’t easy. But it was amazing fun and did lots of good for the girls.”

The rowing raised over £37,000 for cancer research UK in June.

The bike ride proved a major test for the fundraisers.

“It was a massive challenge as a lot of girls weren’t that fit.

“But most people wanted to do it for that reason,” said Mrs Montgomery, an event planner who lives in Marlborough.

“The third day of the ride was my friend’s funeral so I couldn’t go.

“When I was riding I kept thinking ‘she’s not here’, but it keeps you going. I biked like a nutter and I did it for her.

“It was quite hard and we were very tired. We were fit but it doesn’t help on a hard saddle as your body isn’t designed for it.

“There was a great team atmosphere doing it. However tired you feel you know you’re doing it for people who are not well. A lot of girls had it as a challenge and a real positive with something to focus on when there is not much going on.

“My husband Gordon is the trustee of the charity. His first wife also died of cancer so he has done six bike rides for the charity.

The bike ride raised £60,000 for Sarah Green Breast Cancer Now charity.

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